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Federal appeals court rejects Whole Foods bid to block FTC merger review

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [court website] on Friday rejected a complaint [JURIST report] filed by high-end grocer Whole Foods Market [corporate website] against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] last month seeking an injunction barring the agency from holding administrative proceedings [FTC administrative docket] regarding the company's 2007 merger with another high-end grocer, Wild Oats Market [corporate website]. Whole Foods originally filed the rejected complaint in December with the US District Court for the District of Columbia [court website], but withdrew the complaint and refiled it [Whole Foods press release] with the Circuit Court of Appeals last week. In the complaint, Whole Foods alleged that the FTC had a pre-formed judgment about the case, based on public statements from the FTC questioning whether the merger violated anti-trust laws. Whole Foods also alleged that the company's due process rights were violated by the timing of the administrative proceedings.

Whole Foods and the FTC have been engaged in ongoing litigation [FTC litigation docket] over the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger since it occurred in 2007. In August 2007, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block the merger [JURIST report], despite an appeal by the FTC. The court reviewed the case in July 2008 and ordered the district court to reconsider [JURIST report] the potential impacts of the merger on the market. The district court has not yet ruled on the matter.

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